Gaansbaai is known as one of South Africa’s most unique and diverse marine ecosystems. The area is largely known for its Great White shark spottings, but another popular species that dwells there is the Bronze Whaler shark.

This shark is known for a band of bronze/gold discolouration it has on the top of its belly and starkly white underbelly. The colouration is known as counter-shading and camouflages the shark from both prey and predator.

Shark authorities have expressed concern about the overfishing of Bronze Whalers in the Gaansbaai area as there are low numbers of the species. This has resulted in the Great White Protection Foundation launching a campaign to have the area become a marine protection zone

According to the owner of shark cage diving company, Marine Dynamics, Dave Chivell, it is not illegal for fishermen to catch Bronze Whalers, but the loss of the species and how it will impact the eco-tourism industry will be greater than the loss experienced by fishermen when not catching them.

Companies may close and people may be jobless if the killing of Bronze Whalers continues, Chivell said.

According to IOL, nine shark cage divers operate in Gaansbaai, and these employ nearly 300 employees. Tourism generated from shark cage diving also brings 85 000 visitors to the area annually.

It is alleged that sharks are being caught by fishermen as there is scarcity in the fish they usually would catch.

The Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries has said that it is engaging with affected shark diving and  fishing stakeholders over the next two weeks to come up with solutions to the current conflict between shark cage diving companies and fishermen in the area.

Picture: Hennie Otto/SharkWatchSA.com

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